I like to read about celebrities. I don’t necessarily need to know a celebrity’s work, either, to be invested in what I’m reading: hearing someone’s life story is enough for me, and because of this I have come across some of the best celebrity books and memoirs in the last few years.
Sometimes, it’s the memoir that makes me want to learn more about the artist’s work. Often, I get to dispose of previous prejudices and I am pleasantly surprised.
Each of these celebrity books is more than a story of a dream which came true: they are impressive tales about perseverance, finding oneself, and knowing that, in our dreams and fears, we are not alone in this world. There’s much more than what meets the public eye.
My Love Story by Tina Turner
In this memoir, Tina Turner truly is an open book about her life, from growing up in Tennessee to her rise to fame with Ike Turner and her fabulous solo career.
It is wonderful to see the same strength she brings to the stage spread out in these pages, certainly a book for fans of Turner and readers new to her alike.
How to Be Champion by Sarah Millican
Sarah Millican is hilarious, and this book is an openhearted, sincere, and candid account of her path.
Instead of writing a set of hilarious essays about her life, similar to the ones she performs on stage, this book is mostly a serious account of all the roads she took before finding herself in comedy. And yet, it still managed to make me giggle.
It contains good advice, a wonderful way to look at life and its challenges, and a cake recipe.
The Beautiful Ones by Prince
Before his unexpected death in 2016, Prince started writing his own autobiography.
The Beautiful Ones is a personal account of how the man became the legend. With photos previously never shown to the public, notes from the singer, and lyric sheets, it is a trip down memory lane, inside the mind of one of the most talented musicians of his generation and beyond.
So Much I Want to Tell You: Letters To My Little Sister by Anna Akana
Akana became known due to her witty, and true to life, youtube videos. How To Put On Your Face might be her most famous video, where she uses a supposed make-up tutorial to give us some useful life advice. She has spoken openly about mental health and abortion on her channel, too.
The title of this book can make you assume that this book is indeed composed of letters, but it is more than that: the whole book is a love letter to her sister, whose suicide at 13 has – in Akana’s words – defined everything Akana has done so far.
Me by Elton John
This is the only official autobiography of the singer, and a lot of the stories told in this book also were used for the movie Rocketman.
In it, Elton John – born Reginald Dwight – tells about the boy who dreamed of becoming a pop star, the artists he became, and all the things in between – achievements, sorrows, love, and success.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
This was one of the best books I read last year, and I’m not alone in that. Although Michelle Obama speaks of her time in the White House, her role as a First Lady and how it felt to always be surrounded by security, making sure her daughters could live the most normal lives regarding the circumstances, it is wonderful to hear her tell the story of her younger years, her relationship with her family, the studies she pursued, and how she met the one who would end up becoming the 44th President of the United States.
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama
Even before becoming the 44th President of The United States, Barack Obama put pen to paper to speak of the stories that have shaped his identity.
In this book, he takes us along his journey, which eventually ends up in Kenya, where he gets to meet for the first time the family on his father’s side.
Brilliantly written, emotional, and wonder of a book.
Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming
The book starts by depicting Cumming’s relationship with his father: the mistreatments, the aggressive behavior, and how he managed to escape the cycle of abuse.
At some point, Cumming describes at length his journey alongside the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are to figure out an old family secret, how he fell in love with acting, and his sexuality.
This book is a wonderful collection of wisdoms and Wong’s life experience: by writing letters to her daughters, she tells her life story, what it is like to be single in New York, what she learned by being a woman in comedy, and many other tales told with a candor you won’t want to miss.
Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen
Until I read this book I did not understand people’s love for Springsteen’s work. I picked it up because I was curious to learn more about his life and, while it took me a couple of chapters to get into the story, it then really gripped me to the very end.
His perseverance, the belief in his dream, the trips across America as a young and poor musician, and his family story, have all the ingredients to keep a reader entertained.
Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance by Simone Biles
Simone Biles’s gymnastics dream may have begun at a childcare field trip in Spring, Texas, but it was her natural ability, enthusiasm, and persistence which made her one of the top gymnasts we know.
But there’s more to know about the four-time victor of Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro, and here she shares her life story behind the spotlight.
Born A Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
I keep recommending this book over and over, because it is so good. Somehow, Noah manages to make us cry from laughter at the absolutely saddest and most disturbing passages.
The child of a Black mother and a white father in South Africa during apartheid, he ended up doing stand-up by pure chance.
Because the story stops right before Noah begins his career as a comedian, I truly hope there is a sequel in the making soon.
This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe
Known for her outstanding role in Precious, in This Is Just My Face Sidibe shares the uniqueness of her life story.
From her first employment as a telephone sex “talker” to her ascension to becoming a distinct actor, this is not your usual memoir.
Where Am I Now by Mara Wilson
The girl from Matilda has grown and she has new dreams now: she wants to become a writer.
Mara Wilson became a celebrity once again, after years away from the screens, even though she isn’t acting anymore. Her Twitter presence is a breath of fresh air, and her blog will make you reflect, and wonder, and cry.
Wilson has definitely made her dream come true – again – and this memoir tells you everything you didn’t know yet: life behind the scenes, the loss of her mother, and how she decided she wanted to become a writer.
In this memoir, the Parks & Recreation star explains how she moved to Hollywood to become a star, throwing her parents’ dream of her becoming a doctor out of the door.
It paid off: in her words, she is rich enough to buy $15,000 designer handbags yet scared enough to know she’s always a heartbeat away from ramen with American cheese.
Funny, open-hearted, and filled with hope too.
Naturally Tan by Tan France
The star of Queer Eye brings his life story to the page, telling us tales of growing up gay in a Muslim family, and how it felt like to be one of the few people of colour in his hometown.
With humour, starting from his childhood memories to coming out at the age of 34, this is an interesting memoir in itself, whether you watch the show or know Tan at all.
Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope by Karamo Brown
Another star of Queer Eye telling us their life story: from his training as a social worker and psychotherapist, having to deal with physical and emotional abuse, alcohol and drug addiction, and becoming famous while being a dedicated single father of two boys, one biological and one adopted.
A Beautiful Work In Progress by Mirna Valerio
The American runner who advocates for the inclusion of all types of bodies in the running community has written a body-positive memoir, from being a first-time racer to becoming an ultramarathoner.
We’re all works in progress.
Me by Ricky Martin
Maybe it is just a coincidence that both Elton John and Ricky Martin have chosen the same name for their biographies.
Martin tells his life story, from the tales of his childhood, his experience on the band Menudo, the struggle with coming to terms his own sexuality, and his role as a father of adopted children.
GuRu by RuPaul
RuPaul does not work with limitations: he sees where he can break them, and he goes there and does whatever the hell he wants.
A style icon, but also an advocate for embracing your own self and living life to the fullest. An inspiration.
In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
After staring in Orange Is The New Black and Jane The Virgin, Guerrero tells the story of her family and their struggle of being undocumented immigrants in the United States.
While she was born in the U.S., her parents and brother were deported when Guerrero was only 14. All by herself, she had to find ways to stay in the country and seek a life for herself without the support of a family. This is a wonderful story of resilience, a moving tale.
Inside Out by Demi Moore
Even after becoming one of the best-known actresses in the world, Demi Moore has battled addiction, and still struggled with trauma from her childhood.
This is a first-person account of her life story, where you get to know more about her career and personal life.
Every Tool’s a Hammer: Life Is What You Make It by Adam Savage
Not only is this a geeky memoir by one of the most fun TV hosts of America, it is also a letter of encouragement to everyone who wants to start making something.
And, if you like glue, there is a whole chapter about it. Interesting, nerdy, a guide to aim beyond our limitations.
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae
The creator of the TV show Awkward Black Girl brings to the page a funny account of what it is like to be an introvert, awkward, and black.
In this collection of essays, with a self-deprecating tone, Rae talks of everything: from cybersexing to learning to accept yourself.
Life Will Be the Death of Me: …and You Too! by Chelsea Handler
When Trump came to power in 2016, Handler decided that it was time to leave the bubble of privilege she lived in, and make some changes both in her private life and in the world in general.
Personally, she learned to be more self-sufficient, started seeing a therapist, and became politically active. Through this, she started to find some balance amidst the chaos.
We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
This book is a collection of essays about sexuality, gender, beauty, Hollywood, and what it is like to be a woman in the modern world.
After publishing an editorial showing empathy for the victims of sexual assault, the actress revealed her own experience and the consequent trauma.
Here is a wonderfully written book that you don’t want to miss.
The comedian, actress, and co-host of The Talk shares in this book a collection of hilarious stories of things gone wrong: her mistakes, consequent humiliation, and all the things she has learned from this.
While this book might be relatable, in the way standup stories so many times are, it is a great read for everyone, even for those who claim to never step out of line.
Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews
The title is self-explanatory, as this is the second part of her memoir; the first part, Home, focuses more on her early years than her work as an actress.
Here, Andrews talks about the highs and lows of her Hollywood years, but also about her personal life, marriage, and becoming a mother.
The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
This is a series of extremely personal essays from the actress, who has become most famous for her role in Girls Trip.
But this is more than just essays: it is told with such candor, good humour, and optimism, that it becomes almost a guide on how to live your best life and succeed in what you love.
Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
In this memoir, Lauren Graham looks back at her life, and the years she spent taking part in one of the most beloved series out there, Gilmore Girls.
From her personal life, finding love, and behind the scenes on set, this is a particularly interesting book for those who followed the series religiously, but not only.
Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland
Misty Copeland made history as the first African American principal ballerina dancing with the American Ballet Theatre.
After pursuing ballet in a time where she and her five siblings were struggling to have a decent life, taking just a year from her first lesson to performing professionally, Misty has broken barriers.
In Life In Motion she lets us peek into her life, her passions, and dreams.
A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston
The actor who has become a worldwide phenomenon after Breaking Bad tells his life story in a humorous way.
With many stories worth telling – the motorbike trip he took with his brother, going through an abusive relationship, and finally making it in the acting world – this book goes from heartbreaking to funny very quickly.
My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
In this book, the first Latinx – and the third woman – appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court tells of her childhood with an alcoholic father, learning to fend for herself from a young age, and eventually deciding to become a lawyer.
It is an honest account of her life, her ambitions, and her achievements.
Robin by Dave Itzkoff
On a list mostly composed of memoirs told in the first person, this biography of one of the most beloved actors of our time is put on page by The New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff.
Based on more than a hundred interviews with family and friends of the author, Itzkoff put together a portrait of the man who keeps inspiring people all around the world with his comedy but, mostly, his kind heart.
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
Takei is best known for his role in Star Trek and his on-point tweets.
In this graphic memoir, he recounts his experience of being imprisoned in one of the many existing American concentration camps for Japanese during WWII.
Hawking by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick
This is a beautifully illustrated biography of one of the most brilliant minds of our times.
Staring Hawking’s early days at St. Albans School, his diagnosis, and how the limitations of his body did nothing to limit his mind, this is a beautiful homage to Hawking’s life and work.
March by John Lewis
More than just Lewis’s personal story, this book series is also a historical account of the fight for civil and human rights, as they are so deeply intertwined.
The series is made up of three volumes, and in the light of the latest news, it’s more relevant than ever.
BOWIE: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams by Steve Horton, Michael Allred, and Laura Allred
What is better than a book about Bowie? An illustrated book about Bowie!
In BOWIE: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams, the author tells Bowie’s life story and the rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust.
Muhammad Ali by Sybille Titeux de la Croix and Amazing Améziane
Muhammad Ali’s inspiring story finds a new home in this precious graphic memoir: from a kid who finds boxing by accident when his bike is stolen to the legend we all came to know.
And because you can’t separate them, this is also a story about Ali’s human rights activism.
The Twilight Man: Rod Serling and the Birth of Television by Koren Shadmi
In a stunning graphic memoir, Shadmi tells the story of the Hollywood icon, from his rise to stardom and the world of The Twilight Zone, and the way his manners, views, and beliefs made him both a genius and an outcast.
Fictional Celebrity Books
The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
An aging Hollywood icon decides it is time to tell her life story, and she chooses an unknown magazine reporter to do so. But Monique Grant, the reporter, is surprised. She doesn’t understand why she was chosen for a chance any big reporter would kill to have.
As the two women meet so that one can tell her life story and the other can write it, it becomes evident that it is more than happenstance that which connects them.
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Here is Jenkins once more (she’s that good, okay?) bringing fictional celebrities to the paper.
In Daisy Jones & The Six, which was a great success in 2019, the lovely cover popping ever so often on bookish timelines, Jenkins creates a fictional band, and all their necessary dramas after a split up.
The book is set to become a web TV series.
If you’re looking for more celebrity books, here are a few links for you!